Excellence in Psychology and Cognitive Science

The University of Newcastle was one of only four institutions to receive a rating of 'well above world' standard for Psychology and Cognitive Science in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings.

Andrew Heathcote 

Psychology placed within the top five universities in Australia while Cognitive Science rated in the top three.

These outstanding results are largely due to a strong commitment to research that crosses discipline, department and faculty boundaries within the University.

Most of the research is driven by Priority Research Centres in Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health, Health Behaviour, and Physical Activity and Nutrition.

Our research also engages the community due to our involvement with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). The University has recently committed $5.4 million to fund a new MRI Research Facility in partnership with HMRI, demonstrating our commitment to promoting synergy between Psychology, Cognitive Science and Neuroscience research.

The University of Newcastle is involved with many broad areas of research within Psychology and has been successful in securing prestigious fellowships and grants which is testament to the quality of work being carried out by discipline staff.

Research in Clinical and Health Psychology focuses on early diagnosis and intervention in clinical disorders such as schizophrenia, and the mental health of rural and remote populations and vulnerable children and their families.

It also addresses a range of other mental health interventions and public policy and health interventions in areas including problem drinking, smoking associated with mental illness, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Social and cross-cultural research addresses determinants of stigma, stereotyping and discrimination, and reduction interventions.

The Personal Qualities Assessment was developed by Newcastle researchers and is used to select students for medical training worldwide. Cognitive Science research includes a focus on memory processes in both in children and adults, and the Newcastle Cognition Laboratory has a particular strength in mathematical and computational modelling of decision processes and neuroscience and a developing interest in spatial cognition.

Strengths in biological psychology include the Psychoneuroimmunology group, which focuses on perinatal programming and early life determinants of stress and disease, and the Visual Sciences group, which targets treatments for myopia.

Research in Cognitive Neuroscience is unique in the breadth of collaborations between psychology and clinical neuroscience, focusing on disorders ranging from stroke to addiction and schizophrenia. The multi-campus Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory  addresses a broad range of topics including early sensory perception and auditory memory, facial expression processing, emotion and unconscious processing.

Electrophysiological research on auditory processing has pioneered the development of novel human and animal models of altered brain function in schizophrenia. The Age-ility group uses electrophysiological and neuroimaging markers of cognitive control to address lifespan development of adaptive and maladaptive behaviours.